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Red poria

Chinese: 赤茯苓

Pinyin: Chì Fú Líng

Parts used: The outer red part of the dried sclerotium

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Kidney

Scientific name: Wolfiporia extensa

Other names: Hoelen, Poria rubra, Tuckahoe, China root, Matsuhodo

Use of red poria (Chi Fu Ling) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Soak in water, wash, steam slightly, extract the outer red part, cut into pieces or thick slices, dry.

Dosage: 10 to 15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Removes Damp-Heat, regulates Water metabolism

Primary conditions or symptoms for which red poria may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Oliguria Acne Spermatorrhea Urinary difficulties Polyuria

Contraindications*: Should not be used when there is frequent and copious urination when associated with a Cold Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which red poria (Chi Fu Ling) are used*

Wu Lin San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears heat. Cools the Blood. Promotes urination. Unblocks painful urinary dribbling.

Conditions targeted*: UrethritisCystitis and others

Chi Fu Ling is a deputy ingredient in Wu Lin San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Wu Lin San, Chi Fu Ling drains Damp-Heat from the Heart, Small Intestine, and Bladder by promoting urination and unblocking the lower body orifices.

Read more about Wu Lin San

Key TCM concepts behind red poria (Chi Fu Ling)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), red poria are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore red poria are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that red poria typically don't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of red poria means that you don't have to worry about that!

Red poria also taste Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like red poria tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such red poria are thought to target the Kidney. According to TCM, the Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body.

Research on red poria (Chi Fu Ling)

Poria-cocos mushrooms is a key source of pachymic acid which may be useful to target endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and thus may represent a promising new framework in the treatment of currently incurable pancreatic cancer. 1.

Poria-cocos mushrooms capsules achieved obvious effects in the treatment of uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, dysmenorrheal, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, breast hyperplasia and other gynecological diseases.2.

Sources:

1. Cheng S, Swanson K, Eliaz I, McClintick JN, Sandusky GE, Sliva D (2015). "Pachymic acid inhibits growth and induces apoptosis of pancreatic cancer in vitro and in vivo by targeting ER stress"

2. Su ZZ, Li N, Cao L, Wang TJ, Zhang CF, Ding G, Wang ZZ, Xiao W. (2015). Main progress on studies of pharmacological activities and clinical applications of Guizhi Fuling capsule. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. , 40(6):989-92.

Use of red poria (Chi Fu Ling) as food

Red poria are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Sweet poria cakes or Fuling tonic soup.